July 8th World Heritage Status

On this day in 2006 UNESCO assigned World Heritage Status to designated parts of Cornwall and West Devon’s mining areas, those  regions mainly dating from between 1700 and 1914. UNESCO’s justification was as follows:

Much of the landscape of Cornwall and West Devon was transformed in the 18th and early 19th centuries as a result of the rapid growth of pioneering copper and tin mining. Its deep underground mines, engine houses, foundries, new towns, smallholdings, ports and harbours, and their ancillary industries together reflect prolific innovation which, in the early 19th century, enabled the region to produce two-thirds of the world’s supply of copper. The substantial remains are a testimony to the contribution Cornwall and West Devon made to the Industrial Revolution in the rest of Britain and to the fundamental influence the area had on the mining world at large. Cornish technology embodied in engines, engine houses and mining equipment was exported around the world. Cornwall and West Devon were the heartland from which mining technology rapidly spread. 

The landscapes of Cornwall and west Devon were radically reshaped during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by deep mining for predominantly copper and tin. The remains of mines, engines houses, smallholdings, ports, harbours, canals, railways, tramroads, and industries allied to mining, along with new towns and villages reflect an extended period of industrial expansion and prolific innovation. Together these are testimony, in an inter-linked and highly legible way, to the sophistication and success of early, large-scale, industrialised non-ferrous hard-rock mining. The technology and infrastructure developed at Cornish and west Devon mines enabled these to dominate copper, tin and later arsenic production worldwide, and to greatly influence nineteenth century mining practice internationally.

The substantial remains within the Site are a prominent reminder of the contribution Cornwall and west Devon made to the Industrial Revolution in Britain and to the fundamental influence the area asserted on the development of mining globally. Innovative Cornish technology embodied in high-pressure steam engines and other mining equipment was exported around the world, concurrent with the movement of mineworkers migrating to live and work in mining communities based in many instances on Cornish traditions. The transfer of mining technology and related culture led to a replication of readily discernable landscapes overseas, and numerous migrant-descended communities prosper around the globe as confirmation of the scale of this influence.

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